Learn How to Grow and Care for Mushrooms
Growing mushrooms, otherwise known as Fungiculture, is an easy way to produce your own mushrooms at home or in a small scale farming operation. While there are many different types of edible mushrooms, be sure you’re growing a variety that not only tastes good, but is non-toxic and approved for human consumption. Mushrooms are technically not considered to be plants or even vegetables, as those classifications generally refer to members of the plant kingdom that produce chlorophyll in the leafs or stems.
While mushrooms are easy to grow, there are some critical steps to take in order to produce a viable harvest, and with many varieties of mushrooms to choose from, you may wish to choose from various growing methods.
Choosing a Method for Growing Mushrooms
Growing Mushrooms on Logs
For centuries, mushrooms have been grown and picked in the wild, a practice that is still a favorite for many serious cultivators. Some of these traditional methods include growing mushrooms on logs. When planting outdoors on logs, it’s recommended to purchase dowels that have been impregnated with mushroom spawn, also known as mycelium. When choosing a log or preparing one, look for a log that has fallen in the dormant season or if cutting your own log, be sure to cut during the dormant season (dormant season is between when the leaves fall off and regrow in the spring).
If you choose to use the log and dowel method, simply drill holes into the log and insert the dowel until it’s flush with the surface of the log. You may wish to seal the drilled hole with wax, but be sure not to cover the ends of a cut log with wax, as moisture being drawn in is still important for growth. Be sure you place the now impregnated log in a shady area, or wrap the impregnated log in a black garbage bag and bury underground.
Growing Mushrooms on Straw
Another popular method of growing mushrooms is with straw and a growing bag. Simply place some straw in a growing bag, pour boiling water over the straw, fold the top of the bag and wait a few hours for the water to cool. Once cooled, sprinkle some mushroom spawn over the wet straw and shake the bag until evenly distributed. After about four weeks in the growing bag, move the spawn-laden straw into a fruiting tray and cover with a fruiting bag. From this point until fully developed, spray the straw with water twice a day to encourage growth and allow for some light, but never direct, full sun or light. Mushrooms should be ready to harvest in about ten days.
Growing Mushrooms from Spawn
Mushrooms can be started and grown indoors or outdoors when starting from spawn. Spawn is the tiny fungal spores that produce mushrooms, and once introduced into an ideal growing medium, can develop good root structure and produce edible mushrooms. The ideal growing medium for mushrooms is well-rotted horse manure or soil that is enriched with organic matter
Soil Preparation for Growing Mushrooms
Unlike most grown foods, mushrooms require a certain type of growing medium and extremely limited exposure to light in order to produce the best possible harvest. For centuries mushrooms have been grown and picked in the wild – which can be a dangerous practice unless you are well aware of what types of mushrooms are edible and which types are highly toxic and potentially lethal. Some people like to use more traditional methods of growing mushrooms on dead / decaying tree trucks, as they often grow naturally in the environment. Others choose to prepare a perfect growing medium for mushrooms, including mediums that are mostly organic compost or manure-based.